It may have taken longer than many hoped or expected but the Habs and P.K.
Subban have reached an agreement on a long-term pact. On Saturday, the
club announced that they have signed the restricted free agent to an 8 year, $72
million contract, the richest contract in franchise history. It also gives
him the highest cap hit of any defenceman in the league.
Subban was Montreal’s 2nd round pick, 43rd overall in 2007 NHL Entry Draft, a
draft that was Montreal’s best in quite some time. (They also selected
Ryan McDonagh, Max Pacioretty, and Yannick Weber that year.) Subban is the
highest scoring blueliner from that draft class with 167 points in 284 career
regular season games.
Last year, the rearguard set career highs in both assists (43, which led the
team) and points (53) but wound up scoring one less goal than he tallied in
2012-13 despite playing 40 extra games. He became the first Montreal
defenceman to record at least 40 assists in a single season since Andrei Markov
recorded 52 in 2008-09. He also set a career high in ice time per game at
24:36, good for second on the team and 17th in the league. On top of that,
he set new personal bests in blocked shots (125) and hits (135).
The success continued in the postseason where the 25 year old led the Habs in
points with 14, one ahead of the recently re-signed Lars Eller. On the
negative side, however, just two of those points came in the final eight playoff
contests. Subban also saw his ice time jump considerably, up to 27:26
(which led the team and ranked him seventh among league-wide blueliners)
there were times towards the end where it appeared the extra workload was
becoming somewhat of a hindrance.
It’s possible that Subban may see an even bigger role heading into the
2014-15 season. The team will likely try to better manage Markov’s minutes
to keep him away from averaging over 25 minutes per game again while a spot has
opened up on the penalty kill following the departure of Josh Gorges to Buffalo.
However, if Subban winds up filling that spot shorthanded with regularity, it
wouldn’t be surprising to see his powerplay time decrease from the 80% he played
per PP last season. With Tom Gilbert now on the team and Nathan Beaulieu
potentially being a regular, they should be able to lower that percentage.
With the deal now signed, the Habs have a total of 48 players under contract.
Five of these, however, are eligible to slide if the player doesn’t suit up in
ten or more NHL games in 2014-15 so there is still room to try and ink or
acquire a few more players (likely for Hamilton) before the season gets
underway. In terms of cap space, Montreal finds themselves roughly $2.5 –
million under the upper limit, depending on who you currently have pencilled in as the
seventh defenceman (a role that could be filled via free agency still).
That figure does not include any potential bonuses being reached.
The contract also reportedly contains a full no-move clause. However,
that cannot kick in until Subban turns 27 (UFA age).